Friday, December 09, 2005

PDA stylus sensor

I've had a Palm Tungsten T for about two and a half years. I generally adapt myself to the quirks of particular hardware, but the steps to open the Tungsten, getting it ready for input, still annoy me.

  1. Remove the screen cover

  2. Slide the button pad downwards (or push the power button)

  3. Depress the stylus so that it will pop out

  4. Extract the stylus

Sometimes I can get the spring in the stylus to pop the stylus out of the slot. That eliminates one step, but it's still too many. When I can't get the stylus to jump for me, the extra extraction step becomes that much more annoying. I originally liked the slide-out button pad because it made the device more compact. Now I would trade the compact size for one less step when opening the device. I think that the proper solution is to add sensors to the Palm.

One approach is to put a sensor in the stylus well so that the Palm can determine when I have removed the stylus. That reduces the steps to

  1. Remove screen cover

  2. Remove stylus

Another approach is to attach a sensor to the screen cover. That reduces the open operation to the same steps as with a stylus sensor. Or, if I'm doing some quick finger tapping, there's only one step.

For my next PDA purchase, I'm going to put more weight on the steps to open factor. As an aside, I think PDAs should have many more built in sensors. Some examples:

  • thermometer

  • barometer

  • accelerometer

  • GPS

Use cases for those sensors will have to wait for another blog post.

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